Press "Enter" to skip to content

BRIAN LAUDRUP: Rangers striker Alfredo Morelos must prove he deserves move to a big league

There is a simple truth about the situation surrounding Alfredo Morelos. 

If he really wants to secure a move to a bigger league than the Scottish Premiership, the best way to go about it is by continuing to play like he did on Sunday.

The change in his performance level was obvious. It was like seeing the old Morelos again. Whatever Steven Gerrard said to him in their chat will stay private, but it clearly worked. 

We have to give Gerrard credit for that little piece of man-management. It was the kind of thing Walter Smith excelled at during my time at Ibrox.

People began to wonder whether Morelos would start against St Mirren after Gerrard admitted his head had been turned by all the transfer speculation centred around interest from Lille. But his inclusion worked extremely well. 

It looked as though his focus was back and that’s clearly vital for Rangers as a team and Morelos individually.

We don’t know what will happen next in terms of bids being made, but clubs will be watching how Morelos reacts to everything that goes on around him.

There has been talk of him costing more than £15million or even £20m. Whatever the exact figure might be, spending that amount would be a sizeable financial outlay for a team on the continent.

They will be looking into every aspect before deciding to make the kind of commitment that might convince Rangers to sell. 

What is he like off the park? How does he deal with certain situations? What is his injury record like? Can he sustain good form over the whole course of a season?

All these things contribute to a final decision so they will be obviously be studying his performances in the early weeks of this campaign.

Morelos didn’t really hit the heights against Aberdeen and then was disappointing against Bayer Leverkusen. After one goal in 13 games, the recent pattern wasn’t great.

Sunday was more a case of back to normal. The first touch and the work-rate were there again. Two goals is obviously a satisfying return but it was also the way he linked with the team and provided that focal point.

Morelos has been clear for a long time that he wants to play elsewhere at some stage in his career. That’s fair enough and at 24 he maybe feels he is ready now. 

But whether he is near a move or far away from one, he has to keep producing the goods for Rangers.

Gerrard seems to have to got his head back into a better place and concentrating on his main job. Everything else will follow from there.

It’s a vital for any good manager to be able to handle players in difficult situations like that. In my own career, I’ve always said Walter was the master of man-management. Absolutely incredible. 

He knew exactly when to put an arm around you and when to produce the whip. It was like a sixth sense of saying the right thing at the right time.

Jupp Heynckes at Bayern Munich was another I found very easy to approach. He was really good in terms of relating to his players. 

But Walter was really one of a kind in that respect and it was a big contributor to why he was so successful.

Football may be in a different era from when I played but you still need to know each personality and what makes them tick. 

In the case of Morelos, it might also not be a coincidence that he produced a very good performance just after Gerrard strengthened his forward options by bringing in Cedric Itten and Kemar Roofe.

That applied a bit of pressure in terms of keeping a starting position – and Morelos answered back in the best possible way.

It’s always an interesting dynamic in a squad. Some players like to know how important they are, that they are always in the manager’s plans. Others need that real feeling of competition, almost being provoked into their best.

Morelos had that before when he was going goal-for-goal against Jermain Defoe in the early part of last season. 

Now there is deeper level of quality in the squad to contend with – and a variety of different skill-sets for the manager to utilise.

Gerrard has done exactly what he needed to do by getting the kind of additions spoken about for weeks. There are people in place if Morelos was to go in the weeks ahead.

If I was him, and this is just my opinion, I would love to leave Rangers at the end of a huge success. He hasn’t won anything in his time at Ibrox. So if he does exit in this window, perhaps he will look back and think he should have stayed for just one more year.

Again, though, an offer might arrive that is too good for either the club or the player to turn down. That’s life in football.

For the time being, Morelos just has to keep hitting the standards he showed on Sunday. That way, everyone wins.

If anyone needed a reminder of just how huge and crazy this season will be, they only had to listen to the words of Callum McGregor at Rugby Park.

The Celtic midfielder apologised to their fans after Sunday’s 1-1 draw at Kilmarnock and said the message was to stay calm. 

Only 180 minutes of football have been played in the Scottish Premiership. Two games. In most leagues on the planet, you wouldn’t hear that kind of talk for months.

It just goes to show how much scrutiny the Celtic players are under this season. Of course, Rangers have it, too. 

But after being on top for the last nine years, there will be some people who view failure this season as Celtic losing a title rather than Rangers winning it.

McGregor was perfectly correct when he talked about staying calm. It’s only two points dropped so early in the season. Nothing at all gets sorted at this stage.

But already Celtic players are in the firing line for criticism. Christopher Jullien didn’t play very well at Rugby Park and and both he and Kris Ajer are having questions asked of them. That’s something you have to handle as a player.

You can be the most successful team for a number of years, but when we are talking about this holy grail of 10-in-a-row it brings a new level of pressure.

Celtic have shown in past years that they respond well to setbacks. They have plenty of proven winners in their squad who know what it takes.

The challenge for Rangers, of course, is to try and put some doubt in their minds. That means building on a positive start by showing real consistency in the coming weeks. 

Every little advantage has to be grabbed in a campaign set to go down in history.

Be First to Comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *